Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas tree and a whipping

We didn't have Christmas when I was growing up on the farm. We were beyond poor for that luxury. Although we had food we grew and slaughtered there was no extras so to speak. As I was attending school and around Christmas time, I would hear the most interesting stories of a man named Santa that came and left all kinds of gifts under your Christmas tree if you had been a good boy or girl. I knew we were kept in line so I was thinking it must be we didn't have a tree for him to put gifts under so he didn't stop there. Well I think I was in about second grade that I decided I would be the one to go get that tree out of the back field, which was about a mile walk there and back to the house. I had spied it growing on our fence line while working in the field. I went out to the corn crib and got the hatchet and meandered my way back to the fence row to get that tree. Along the way I was daydreaming of all the possibilities of waking up on Christmas morning seeing presents under it and how excited my brothers and sisters would be to wake up to what I just knew we would have come Christmas morning. When I arrived at the appointed tree, I observed it and wondered how in the world was I going to chop that thing down with just a hatchet. Being the good man my father was he kept all the tools very sharp ready for use. As I pondered the best approach, it came to me that I needed help with the task. So I knelt down right there and prayed for God's help to get that tree for my family. As I stood up it came to me to chop off a few of the lower branches so I would have a better chopping work area. Now understand growing up on a farm back in those days,we young children learned early on how to use tools without getting hurt. I thought of all the things I had learned about not hurting myself and went to work. I chopped my wedge for the proper fall line and started on the other side. I chopped and chopped and chopped some more. That tree must have been about ten feet tall and had a big trunk. I wasn't worried about the tree being too tall because we didn't have a ceiling nailed to the rafters so it could fit anyway even if it went right on to the tin roof. I learned early on to think of things and keep my mind occupied so my tasks didn't seem so hard for me. I had all the ideas of how we were going to be the luckiest kids to finally have that man Santa bring us toys. Oh the daydreaming I did while chopping down that tree. It started to fall in the right direction and I ran the other way like I had been taught. Cotton pickin it that thing laid there still attached to the stump. I decided if I was taking that thing home it would have to be chopped some more. I knew it was laying the right way and I wasn't going to get hurt so I chopped and a little at a time the outer bark and trunk peeled away. It wasn't long then til it gave way and plopped to the ground. Oh my, I was so proud of myself, not realizing I faced another dilema. I was going to have to drag that big thing back home by myself. I recalled how Pa had taught us to hook our arm around a branch of a limb to drag it to the pile for getting little pieces for starting fires. Ha! it worked I thought as I started walking with it dragging behind me.I looked toward the house and it sure did seem a long way away. Another thing we were taught was to sing when a task seemed too hard to do was sing. So little miss myself started singing and sang her way right up to the house. I opened the gate and drug that tree right onto the front porch. I got a foot tub and filled it with rocks around the trunk of the tree but it wouldn't stand up straighe. Use your brain was another thing we were told to do growing up so I thought about what might help it stand up tall and straight. Dirt! That's what it was in when I went and got it. So I started adding dirt one can at a time till I filled that foot tub of rocks and tree full. It worked. I was so excited and wondered how I was going to decorate it now. We didn't have anything to put on a tree. I had just learned at school how to make an Angel out of two kleenex so I went inside and got the box of kleenex and then out to the pack house where we removed the tobacco from the sticks to take to the market and got a bunch of discarded tobacco string. I took two tissues and balled up the first one then laid the second one centered over that one. That made the head. I tied the string just under that and left enough attached for hanging it on the tree. Oh my that was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I made a bunch of those angels and put them all over that tree. There were no lights or anything else but just a tree of Angels. The contrast of white and green was spectacular to my little mind. I started dragging and pushing that foot tub which was by now so heavy I could hardly move it. So put your shoulder to the wheel came to mind and I got down on the floor and put my right shoulder against the foot tub and started pushing and low and behold it worked. It only moved a few inches at a time but I got it to the door. Hmmmm, I hadn't considered how I would get it over the threshold so another dilema. I pushed and pulled and grunted and tooted my horn and just about everything else known to man to get that thing in the house. All this actyivity finally got the attention of my mother who had been in the kitchen cooking supper. The kitchen door opened and the next thing I knew I was getting a thrashing with some unkind words about getting that.... thing out of her house. I got a whipping for my trouble/reward for trying to get the rest of the kids and myself something for Christmas is how I saw it. But I didn't take into consideration that I had used her box of kleenex and now she had nothing to wipe runny noses with. So I was directed to take my beautiful Angels off the tree and put them back in the box the way they came. With tears streaming down my face I did what I was told and then had to take the tree out to the burn pile and throw it on it. I was so crushed and knew that the Santa Claus would never come to our house now ever. But I was wrong. When my youngest sister got old enough there was a tree with lights and ornaments all over it and on Christmas morning there were presents to only her from Santa. My parents couldn't do for all of us what they did for her as the last child. For some reason that seemed to be what happened in a lot of families around us. We children didn't understand but it seemed to be the thing to do and it became what happened with my youngest brother who was named after my dad and the youngest daughter/last child. The moral of this story is when I grew up and had children of my own, there was always a Christmas tree and presents from Santa in my house. We would read the Christmas story by candle light and then I would tuck them in and get to work making magic happen in the night. Oh the tears of joy each and every Christmas morning while they were growing up to watch them experience what I never got to experiende in my lifetime. Every child deserves to experience the joy of waking up Christmas morning to have a gift under a Christmas tree. I may have stayed up til four in the morning a lot of nights sewing dolls and stuff for my three girls to compensate what I had spent for my son. I had no idea of what I could make for him. I may have been a single mom and didn't have much money but the magic happened for those four children after they went to bed. To this day I love Christmas and having a decorated tree and yard. There may not be any presents under the tree from Santa to give me joy but in my heart I feel the love of Jesus Christ when I wake up on Christmas morning. Perhaps we'll expand on lining up to getting our medicine next time. Until then I leave you with Just This...Alice

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Alice! I cannot imagine not having a tree and Santa. You were such a determined young girl full of ingenuity. I know your Christmases with your own family must have been that much extra special to you!